Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Why Homemade Masks Make Sense

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | April 1, 2020

On Tuesday March 10th – 22 days ago – approximately 55 people gathered for their weekly choir practice at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, an hour’s drive north of Seattle.

At that point in time, only 30 people had died of the coronavirus in the entire United States (compared to 4,000+ today). In a statement released since then, the Skagit Valley Chorale reminds us that, three weeks ago,

There were no closures of schools, restaurants, churches, bowling alleys, banks… or any other businesses. The advice from the State of Washington was to limit gatherings to 250 people.

The volunteer choir has 120 members, but everyone had been advised not to attend rehearsal if they were experiencing any symptoms of illness. According to a news story, the 60 people who showed up brought their own sheet music and refrained from shaking hands or hugging. A greeter provided hand sanitizer at the entrance, and everyone appeared to be healthy. When interviewed afterward, eight people in attendance agreed no one in the room was coughing or sneezing.

A few days later, however, numerous members began to feel feverish. The choir’s public statement explains:

By Monday, the 16th, twenty people had symptoms and we had the first positive test result. By Monday evening, 23 were ill, some of whom attended the rehearsal on March 10, some who had only attended on March 3, and some of whom did not attend either rehearsal… today [March 23rd] we know of at least 21 confirmed positives and 30 people (members and significant others) who are ill.

Two members of this choir have since died. Others have been hospitalized. In the words of Los Angeles Times journalist Richard Read, “The outbreak has stunned county health officials, who have concluded that the virus was almost certainly transmitted through the air from one or more people without symptoms.”

That’s the tricky thing about this virus. We can be carriers and not know it. Even if we wash our hands frequently, we may be infecting others far more easily than the experts have imagined possible.

As a result, a grassroots #Masks4ALL movement is gathering steam. Every time we open our mouths, micro droplets are released into the air. Some of these fall to the ground quickly. Others stay airborne for somewhat longer, and appear to travel farther than expected.

If we all start wearing homemade masks in public (sewn from new fabric, cut from old t-shirts, or improvised with bandanas and scarves), the volume of droplets in the air will decrease – which means fewer germs will be settling on, for example, the items currently lining grocery store shelves.

These masks won’t be equivalent to the N95 masks that keep medical staff safe. But remember that old saying: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Homemade masks will reduce the volume of germs now contaminating public spaces. If I protect you by wearing my mask, and you protect me by wearing yours, we’ll all improve our odds.

According to this video, the citizens of the Czech Republic began making and wearing masks of their own accord, in a grassroots movement that has swept the country.

Police officers who wear bulletproof vests can, of course, still be shot in the head. Homemade masks won’t guarantee our safety, but they provide significant protection.

There’s also the concept of viral load. Our bodies have a better chance of fighting off a smaller amount of virus compared to a higher concentration. A homemade mask may reduce the degree to which we become infected.

In many countries, the authorities have been understandably focused on reserving as many masks as possible for use by medical personnel. As a result, they appear to have blatantly lied to us about masks and the general population. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos embedded in this post, please consider the 3-and-a-half-minute one from the Czech Republic directly above.

There’s no reason to be passive. There’s no reason to wait for officials to come to their senses.

Each of us can make our own mask and start wearing it today.

#Masks4ALL

LINKS:

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Solidarity and Activism, Video | | Leave a comment

‘Shameless Racism’: 13 Countries Change Long-Standing Position on Palestine at UN

Palestine Chronicle – December 5, 2019

For the first time, 13 countries changed their longstanding positions and voted against a pro-Palestine measure at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil, and Colombia voted against the annual resolution regarding the “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”, according to the Times of Israel.

They had previously abstained on the vote.

The resolution, which includes a call to halt to illegal Israeli settlements being constructed in the occupied West Bank, still passed with a large majority voting in favor.

The Palestinian representative told the council: “If you protect Israel, it will destroy you all.” He also said Israel’s character as a Jewish state is “shameless racism”.

The New York-based Division for Palestinian Rights oversees the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Comoros, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The UK, France, and Spain abstained, as they do every year, allowing the resolution to pass with a vote of 87-54, with 21 other abstentions.

The General Assembly adopted five resolutions on the question of Palestine and the Middle East, including one calling on the Member States not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regards to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strange Things Happen to European Countries Resisting George Soros’ Assault

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.03.2018

Strange things happen in East and Central Europe that get little mention from media outlets. Two heads of state, the PMs of Slovenia and Slovakia, resigned almost simultaneously. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was a victim of the scandal over the murder of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was investigating government corruption. The PM had to step down amid mass street protests.

Mr. Fico was known for his support of a stronger Visegrad Group. He opposed Brussels on many issues. It’s worth noting that he called for lifting sanctions and improving relations with Moscow. The PM was adamant that Russia was a reliable energy partner. Is it a coincidence that he was forced to resign amid the anti-Russia campaign triggered by the Skripal case and other obviously concocted stories used as false pretexts for incessant attacks on Moscow? Wasn’t he a threat to the so-called unity of the EU against Russia? He definitely was.

The PM did not hide the fact that his decision was made under great pressure. The ouster was engineered by outside forces, including philanthropist billionaire George Soros. For instance, Slovak President Andrej Kiska had a private meeting with the billionaire in September, 2017. It was a one-on-one conversation. No Slovak diplomat was present there.

According to Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, “George Soros is a man who has had a major influence on the development in Eastern and Central Europe and beyond. That is a fact that cannot be questioned.” PM Viktor Orbán had this say about the event: “George Soros and his network are making use of every possible opportunity to overthrow governments that are resisting immigration.”

Slovenian PM Miro Cerar was attacked by Soros for his opposition to the EU policy on immigration. George Soros did not hide the fact that he was an ardent opponent of Miro Cerar’s stance. “It is an obligation for Europe to receive migrants,” the US financier lectured Europeans. Now the PM has to go, after the results of a referendum on a key economic project were annulled by the top court and the media attacks on his stance regarding asylum seekers intensified. With Cerar no longer at the helm, the opposition movement to Brussels’s dictatorship has been weakened.

Who’s next? Probably Hungary, which has become a target for Soros’s attacks. The American billionaire has invested more than $400 million into his native country since 1989. He has also announced his intention to influence the Hungarian election campaign and has employed 2,000 people for that purpose. The government wants its “Stop Soros” bills to become laws. No doubt Hungary will come under attack for opposing the financier’s network.

Brussels will raise a hue and cry, criticizing the “undemocratic regime” ruling the country. The next parliamentary elections in Hungary will be held on April 8, 2018. It’ll be a tough fight to preserve independence while fending off attempts to impose US pressure through Soros-backed NGOs and educational institutions.

Soros’s activities are also being resisted in the Czech Republic. Czech President Milos Zeman has accused the groups affiliated with Soros of meddling in his nation’s internal affairs. The financier is urging the EU to lean on Poland and compel it to “preserve the rule of law.”

Macedonia, is also resisting the billionaire-inspired subversive activities that have an eye toward regime change. The “Soros network” has great influence on the European Parliament and other institutions. The scandalous list of Soros’s allies  includes 226 MEPs out of 751. Every third member — just think about that! If that isn’t corruption then what is? The lawmakers being swayed from abroad dance to Soros’s tune. They do what they are told, which includes whipping up anti-Russia hysteria.

Moscow has its own history of dealing with the Soros network. In 2015, George Soros’s Open Society Institute was kicked out of that country as an “undesirable organization” that was established to boost US influence.

It would be really naïve to think that Soros acts on his own. It’s an open secret that the US government flagrantly meddles in other countries’ internal affairs using the billionaire as a vehicle. Europe is an American competitor that needs to be weakened. USAID and the Soros network often team up in pursuit of common objectives. In March 2017, six US senators signed a letter asking the State Department to look into government funding of Soros-backed organizations. But those efforts went nowhere, Foggy Bottom is always on Soros’s side, whatever it is.

Many European countries are engaged in a fierce battle to protect their independence. The financier’s “empire” is chomping at the bit to conquer Europe by means of bribes and subversive NGOs. These countries and Russia are resisting the same threat. Perhaps that’s why the sanctions against Russia are so unpopular among many East European politicians.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Trump effect’ divides European opinion

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 14, 2016

The results of the two presidential elections held on Sunday in Bulgaria and Moldova underscore the winds of change blowing over the western edges of Eurasia. To an extent they can be called the early signs of the ‘Trump effect’. In both elections, ‘pro-Russian’ candidates won convincingly. (here and here)

In both cases, the contestation essentially boiled down to whether Bulgaria and Moldova would be better off casting their lot with the European Union or whether they need to realign with Russia. The answer is clear.

The open-ended quest for EU membership no longer holds attraction for Moldova, whereas, Bulgaria appears to be disheartened with its EU membership. On the other hand, Russia is real and it is next-door. The election results yesterday constitute a blow to the EU’s prestige. Indeed, Moscow’s influence is spreading in Eastern Europe.

This is also a swing to the Left in political terms. There is much discontent with ‘reforms’, rampant corruption, etc. in both countries. The Russophile sentiment is very substantial, and there is eagerness to boost trade with Russia to overcome economic difficulties. Also, the local partisans of the West and EU stand discredited in both countries.

In Moldova, only around 30% of population find EU attractive, while 44% would support their country joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union. Curiously, 66% of Moldovans trust Vladimir Putin; in comparison, only 22% place trust in Barack Obama’s words.

Against the backdrop of the election victory of Donald Trump in the US, how these trends are going to play out will be interesting to watch. Bulgaria’s president-elect Rumen Radev has called for an end to the EU sanctions against Russia. He argues that Sofia should be pragmatic in its approach to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (This is notwithstanding Bulgaria’s long history of divided loyalties between Russia and Europe.)

The Obama administration in its lame duck phase will endeavour to pressure the EU to extend the sanctions against Russia for yet another 6-month period beyond December. But will Trump follow Obama’s footfalls when the issue crops up again toward the middle of next year? He is unlikely to show Obama’s messianic zeal to ‘contain’ Russia. That is how the EU consensus on sanctions against Russia can break down because many countries in Europe resent the American pressure and prefer to restore trade and economic ties with Russia.

Interestingly, Trump may get resonance in Old Europe as well. The Labour leader in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn made a stunning call in the weekend for Western leaders to ‘demilitarize’ the border between Eastern Europe and Russia or risk a New Cold War. He said the West didn’t have to pile up forces on Russia’s border. Corbyn told the BBC:

I have many, many criticisms of Putin, of the human rights abuses in Russia, of the militarisation of society. But I do think there has to be a process that we try –demilitarise the border between what are now the NATO states and Russia, so that we drive apart those forces and keep them further apart in order to bring about some kind of accommodation. We can’t descend into a new Cold War.

Corbyn also made a thoughtful suggestion that that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes Russia, could replace NATO as a forum for solving issues in the region.

Indeed, some churning has already begun regarding European security even before Trump takes over in the Oval Office. By the way, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday that American statements about possible deployment of a U.S. global missile shield’s radar in the Czech Republic are pure fiction.

He said, “A radar in the Czech territory would mean further escalation in relations with Russia. We need to use the window opening after Donald Trump’s election to have the United States and Russia sit down at one table.” Sobotka pointed out that Eastern Europe’s main security problem today is about putting an end to the war in Syria.

“The United States has considerable influence on the situation in Syria, Russia has considerable influence. So, it is necessary to use this,” he said, adding that Donald Trump can establish more efficient cooperation with Russia on Syria.

However, the fact of the matter is that neither has Trump taken his position yet on NATO nor is it going to be easy for him to seek a separation for America from the western alliance. Simply put, Europe is not ready for a post-NATO future. There is palpable fear in many quarters (both in the US and in Europe) that if the US were to withdraw from Europe, Russia would advance and exercise more assertive behaviour in Eastern Europe.

In an article in the weekend, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg made an impassioned appeal to Trump that now is not the time for the US to abandon NATO. He pointedly invoked the threat perceptions from “a more assertive” Russia. Read the opinion piece here.

The bottom line is that European opinion stands divided. Britain, France and Hungary refused to attend a contentious EU ministerial meeting last night in Brussels, backed by Germany, to align the bloc’s approach to Trump’s election. The rift within the EU on the US vote stands exposed. The irrepressible British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has publicly chided EU politicians to end their ‘whinge-o-rama’ over Trump. (Daily Mail )

Interestingly, the first politician from abroad whom Trump met after the election has been Nigel Farage, the populist Brexit campaigner.

November 14, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia sanctions killing German companies: MP

Press TV – May 5, 2015

A German lawmaker has condemned the European Union and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anti-Russia policy, saying the EU bans are destroying the country’s businesses, with dozens of reported bankruptcies.

Franz Wiese, a Brandenburg lawmaker and member of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, made the remarks on Monday.

“Approved by the European Union and conducted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the anti-Russian sanctions policy is destroying small and medium businesses in Brandenburg as well as in the rest of the country,” said Wiese.

According to Wiese, Merkel’s anti-Russia policy has so far resulted in the bankruptcy of 90 German companies.

Wiese’s remarks came a day after neighboring Czech Republic’s President Miloš Zeman criticized the Western sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, describing the policy as counterproductive and provocative. Zeman also called for the immediate abandonment of such bans.

Western powers have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow is involved in the deadly crisis in neighboring Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations against pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine last year. Russia has denied the allegation.

In a tit-for-tat measure, Moscow imposed yearlong food bans on the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway in August last year.

The move is estimated to cost European agricultural industries millions of dollars in damage. Prior to the food ban, Russia received a quarter of its produce from the EU nations.

On April 27, Russia said it will tighten an existing ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from Bulgaria over concerns that Sofia may be attempting to send European products into Russia, using false documents.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Czechs told not to throw tomatoes, eggs at US military convoy

RT | March 23, 2015

US military convoy parades through Eastern Europe (Screenshot from Ruptly video)

US military convoy parades through Eastern Europe (Screenshot from Ruptly video)

Czech people were told not to throw tomatoes and eggs at a US military convoy rumbling through Eastern Europe, the local media said, citing the laws of the land. Those in love with egg & tomato hurling may get up to three years if convicted.

“Should anyone emerge with the intent to attack the convoy, with [items] such as tomatoes or eggs, it would qualify as disorderly conduct according to Czech legislation (up to 2 years without parole, in recidivist cases up to 3 years) or damage to property (sentences in the range of 6 months to 3 years).”

This statement was aired on Czech TV Nova and cited by the Russian Insider last week, ahead of the planned US military convoy.

Operation ‘Dragoon Ride’, a convoy of US military vehicles, mostly IAV Stryker APCs, started on Saturday. The convoy will make its way through Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, with its final destination being Germany. It will cross the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1 on its way to a base in the German city of Vilseck.

If skirmishes break out, offenders can expect to spend up to 3 years of prison. However, serious violence may incur 10-year sentences for the perpetrators.

“If (the incident) causes serious injuries, the attacker can receive a sentence of up to 10 years.”

Also if someone decides to sabotage the US operation, he or she would also face charges, said the Czech Army Press.

“Sabotage and/or attacks in the Republic, including attempts to undermine its defense capabilities are subject to imprisonment ranging from 8-12 years or forfeiture of property – § 310 par. 1 of the Criminal Code,” it said.

Earlier local media reported the government of the Czech Republic even instructed its own military to protect the US military convoy as it crosses the country over fears that numerous people protesting the move could stage “provocations.”

On Sunday Czech anti-war activists launched the ‘Tanks? No thanks!’ campaign to protest the procession of US Army hardware through the Eastern European country. They say it has been turned into a “provocative victory parade” near the Russian border.

“The last time that vehicles like this came to the Czech Republic, they were Soviet tanks coming to crush moves towards democracy in 1968. We don’t want such vehicles from foreign armies coming here ever again,” said Tana Bednarova from the ‘World without Wars and without Violence’ organization.

READ MORE: ‘Tanks? No thanks!’: Czechs unhappy about US military convoy crossing country

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

After Ukraine: Are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary Veering Off The NATO/EU Reservation?

By Christine Stone | Ron Paul Institute | December 15, 2014

undefined

Prague “red card” protest, November 2014

Despite the firmness shown by the EU’s biggest players when it comes to sanctioning Putin’s Russia, lower down the pecking order some member states are not happy. Unlike the most craven and obedient puppets — the Baltic States and Poland — it took some arm twisting to get the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to agree to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea. Each country is dependent for much of its energy on Russia with which there are also valued economic ties. Why rock the boat? Despite hyperbole claiming that Vladimir Putin was intent on taking them over and rebuilding the iron curtain, in reality, Russia has been an unproblematic neighbor for a quarter of a century.

Could these ripples of discontent with the famed Washington consensus develop into something more troubling for both the  US and Brussels? What can they do about it? All three countries are members of both NATO and the EU. Promoting regime change inside the Euro-Atlantic tent surely becomes more problematic. Or, does it? Let us examine each case separately and see what the auguries bode.

On 17th November 2014, it was drab and raining in Prague as the Czechs celebrated 25 years since the so-called “velvet revolution,” unlike the classic freezing, East European winter day of 17th November 1989. Demonstrations to mark the event were slated to take place and a mass of candles filled the passage way on Národní Třida (National Street) where student “Martin Šmid” died at the hands of the police, an event that was said to have triggered the collapse of the communist regime. But, hold on: it soon emerged that Martin Šmid didn’t exist; he had been invented by the Czechoslovak security services, the St. B. (Státní Bezpečnost) as part of a ploy to bring a new, reformed post-communist regime to power.

Emoting over a death that never took place seems weird but, in a way it sums up the banality that lays at the heart of all things connected with the “velvet” events. This was only reinforced later in the day when a group of anti-capitalist protesters snaked its way through the city centre wearing papier maché masks, some bearing the image of the evil Putin, others the reviled (at least, by the local cogniscenti) Czech president, Miloš Zeman. A few Ukrainian flags brought up the rear. Other banners denounced Ecuador’s left wing president, Rafael Correa, hardly a household name in Prague.[i] As the hundred or so protesters passed the Rudolfinum concert hall, a group of elderly rock musicians with lank, grey hair plugged away at some ancient protest songs watched by a handful of leather clad biker types.

Over the river, at Prague castle, a more serious group had been gathering during the afternoon: students bent on delivering a message to President Zeman that it was time to go. They did this by leaving a trail of red cards inside the presidential palace complex (the red card is used in football matches to send a player off the pitch). Several hundred protesters ended up under the ceremonial balcony demanding Zeman leave. Fluttering over the courtyard was the presidential flag denoting that Zeman was in residence. It is difficult to imagine such protests taking place in front of the White House or 10 Downing Street but, no one tried to remove the students who did not, to be fair, behave in a violent or intimidating manner. However, there had been scuffles earlier in the day at a “velvet revolution” ceremony attended by various European dignitaries, including Germany’s President Gauck. When students pelted Zeman (who was protected by an umbrella) with eggs one misdirected and managed to hit Gauck.

What, then, has caused the animus against Zeman? The president is a rather shambolic figure who, his detractors allege, besmirches his office by drinking heavily and speaking “off the cuff” (he even smokes and is regularly photographed with a lighted cigarette as if to highlight his malevolence).

As long time leader of the Czech Social Democrats and a former prime minister, Zeman earned the ire of the chattering classes by joining a coalition with former president Vaclav Klaus between 1998 and 2002. By then, Klaus had developed a healthy scepticism towards the EU and both men opposed US sponsored wars in Kosovo and later Iraq which led to their being anathematized by Brussels and Washington and, by extension, the local bien pensants, whose hero ex-dissident Vaclav Havel was the first Czech to advocate bombarding Belgrade since the Good Soldier Sweijk in 1914! When Klaus’s term ended in 2012, such people assumed that their candidate, Prince Kari Schwarzenberg, would be effortlessly elected to replace him. However, even though the Czech Republic is the repository of much Hapsburg charm in the form of castles and cultural artifacts, the electorate consists of a majority of post- communist bumpkins unlikely to feel represented by a Knight of the Golden Fleece. 54.8 percent voted for Zeman while 45.2 percent (mainly in Prague) chose Schwarzenberg.

As the role is mainly ceremonial, the president could have been ignored but Zeman has chosen to speak out on numerous occasions and in ways to infuriate his imperial masters. He has regularly demanded normal relations with Putin’s Russia, called the Ukrainian crisis a “civil war” and then, in a radio interview categorised Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a criminal while reminding listeners of the double entendre involved in the moniker “Pussy Riot.” Despite their usual boasts of über-liberal sexual mores, the intellectual elite of Prague expressed outrage at this outburst of vulgarity. “They don’t like him because he’s naughty,” a young reporter from Czech Television said of the student protesters. “How can we have a president like that,” they moan. “He must go”.

Added to their woes has been the seemingly inexorable rise of a new political party, Ano 11[ii], which came a close second in the 2013 parliamentary election and is now in coalition with the Social Democrats. Many people take it for granted that Ano’s founder, the billionaire Andrej Babiš, now the country’s minister of finance, will end up as prime minister; the party did well in autumn, 2014 local elections. What, then, is wrong with Ano 11?

According to the Czech media (and the Euro-American oriented elite) Babiš is a Berlusconi clone, boss of one of the Czech Republic’s largest conglomerates, Agrofert, who, like Berlusconi, is also buying up media outlets. Ano is composed of old secret policemen and headed by Informer-in-Chief, Babiš.[iii] A Slovak by origin, Babiš took the allegations to court and was cleared, but the rumours have persisted as has the intention to appeal. However, it seems clear that, apart from the twitterings of the Prague elite, ordinary Czechs are not particularly concerned by such allegations nearly 30 years after the Communists fell from power. Anyway, many of the alleged Ano nest of spies and informers were too young at the time of their “service” to have been very important cogs in the machine. All this is a smoke screen. Babiš has trodden on various entrenched local interests. He has also supported the extension of nuclear power in the Czech Republic which has angered the EU’s generously subsidised renewables lobby which probably sees the troubles with Russian gas as a golden opportunity to cash in.

Are things any better, more reliable from the Euro-Atlantic perspective, in neighbouring Slovakia? The answer is: not entirely. Slovakia has thrown up politicians frowned upon by the West since its independence was secured by Vladimir Mečiar in 1993. Milan Knažko, an old “sixty eighter” and sometime dissident feared that all the elderly would have to die off before Mečiar finally exited the stage. “Slovaks are stupid,” he said. But, it took twenty years to eliminate Mečiar as a political force only for him to be replaced by another “populist,” Robert Fico, whose leftish Smer (Direction) party won an overall victory in the last Slovak election in 2012. Fico has criticised the EU’s sanctions on Russia and seems to have been forced against his will to implement them, as well as allowing the reverse flow of gas to Ukraine from Slovakia’s own reserves. Of course, his hands are tied as Slovakia is a member of the EU and the single currency. Nevertheless, the empire demands 100 percent obedience, nothing less. Fico stood as a candidate in the March 2014 presidential elections but was surprisingly beaten by a maverick outsider, businessman Andrej Kiska, who made what is described as his “fortune” in hire purchase. Unlike Babiš, his business back ground is regarded as a plus rather than an exercise in predatory capitalism. He is popular with the elites both at home and in Brussels (unlike Fico) and will be an ideal advocate for pushing Slovakia in the “right” direction, for example, by recognising Kosovan independence, something it has refused so far to do to avoid trouble with its restless Hungarian minority.

But, nothing said or done by politicians in Prague and Bratislava equal the level of disobedience that has been coming from further down the Danube in Hungary. There, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has adopted an openly defiant position on a range of issues that have infuriated the EU. But even more dangerously for his long term survival, he has fallen into the cross hairs of Washington. Since summer 2014, demonstrations regularly take place on some pretext or other against the Orban government and long-term regime change watchers can only debate how the situation will finally be resolved. Supporters are confident Orban will survive as he is “popular,” but that never stopped the engine of regime change. Viktor Yanukovich’s party handily won elections in 2012 but he was deposed a year later; the hugely popular Hugo Chavez and Muammar Gaddafi both ended up dead.

Viktor Orban has come a long way from the days of his Soros scholarship at Pembroke College, Oxford. His party, Fidesz, was a classic middle of the road liberal outfit – a proud member of the Liberal International where it now sits somewhat uneasily. However, Hungarians have always been more nationalistic than many Europeans as manifested in their almost unique language; their sense of national identity and solidarity goes back a long time. When Fidesz  won an overwhelming majority in the 2010 parliamentary elections, Viktor Orban, now prime minister, started to put Hungary first. In the wake of the 2008 financial collapse he threw out the IMF and cancelled Hungary’s debt repayments in foreign currency thus lowering the pain for ordinary Hungarians. In 2011, he expelled Monsanto – Hungary has banned the use of GM crops – lowered fuel prices and, in the same year, changed the voting system to a mixed majority and proportional system modeled on Germany. A new constitution has reduced the number of MPs by half. Something must have gone right because in spring 2014’s parliamentary election, Fidesz again won an overall majority. All this took place against the back drop of a broken political order with most Hungarian parties, particularly on the left, scarred by corruption and failure. The ultra-right Jobbik remained as the only functioning opposition party, something unappealing to most right thinking people, including in Hungary.

Accusations of Orban’s “authoritarianism” have gone on for some time, bolstered by a growing number of NGOs in Budapest (mainly foreign funded and backed) as well as tame academics like Princeton’s Kim Lane Scheppele who has tied herself in knots trying to show that Fidesz’s successive victories at the polls (in 2014 alone the party overwhelmingly won parliamentary, local and European elections) were really failures! Perhaps this might just rumble along, going nowhere while – as in Prague – providing low level political gossip for the chattering classes in Budapest to feed on, were it not for Orban’s rather bold foreign policy moves in the past year.

In January 2014 he announced that a deal had been reached with Russia to fund the expansion of Hungary’s Paks nuclear facility. As the Ukrainian events unfolded and energy security came under the spotlight, this could have been viewed as strategic foresight. Not so; the Americans were now very angry. On top of this, when sanctions came up for discussion after the Crimean annexation, Orban baulked at implementing them: “Why should Hungary ‘shoot itself in the foot,’” he said. Like Fico, he dragged his heels over providing Ukraine with reverse flow gas from Hungary’s reserves. As the hate campaign against Putin entered the stratosphere, Viktor remained committed to participating in the South Stream gas project which only came undone when Bulgaria, the weakest link in the chain, pulled out followed by Russia itself redirecting the pipeline to Turkey. According to observers on the ground in Budapest, Orban was now being “warned” by the Cosa Nostra in Washington that he was going “too far.”

At this time, Hungary was without a  US ambassador. Colleen Bell, a producer of TV soap operas, was stuck in the congressional vetting process, so finger wagging was left to the Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, André Goodfriend. Goodfriend has an impressive CV for such a lowly diplomat and his excursions into Hungarian political life, including the now formulaic support for LGBT events, have been high profile culminating in the announcement that six members of the Hungarian government were to be sanctioned and prevented from visiting the US. No names were mentioned but rumors abounded as to the whys and wherefores of the decision.

What to do? With a hopelessly divided and weak opposition given the implosion of the Hungarian Socialists who backed EU-demanded austerity all the way, and with the paramilitary, ultra-nationalist Jobbik as the only substantial alternative to Orban’s party, all that remains is to split Fidesz in the hope of producing something more compliant. On 23rd October, 2014, as if on cue, the BBC’s long time Budapest correspondent, Nick Thorpe, reported that “cracks” were appearing in the ruling party although he failed to put any substance behind the allegation, or name names.[iv] Otherwise, there are the NGOs of which there are numerous as well as blogs and online publications which trash Orban and the Fidesz government. In September 2014, the authorities in Budapest cracked down on the Ökotárs Foundation, which disbursed grants to local NGOs from Norway. In a way, this was quite a clever ruse as it followed an expose in the New York Times detailing Norway’s many involvements in influence peddling via NGO in Washington.[v]

Do these expressions of dissent in Prague, Bratislava and Budapest mean that the Euro-Atlanticist order that has ruled the post-communist world so comprehensively since the early 1990s is under threat? Not quite: in the end, even Orban caved in to Brussels’ demand for sanctions against Russia. He still maintains that Hungary is a loyal EU and NATO member. Ditto, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But, there does seem to be a change in the air. After years filled with allegations of corruption, most political parties in Central Europe are morally bankrupt and derided by local populations. Massaging election results is becoming more difficult when parties acceptable to Brussels and Washington can barely make single percentage points. In the Czech Republic, Ano 11 is heading in the same direction as Fidesz with the prospect of getting overall control of parliament in the next parliamentary elections. Another headache for Washington looms if that happens.

These unexpected shifts away from former subservience in the Central European heartland of Euro-conformity may explain why many of the old anti-communists from the era of perestroika and glasnost are being brought out and dusted down. On 11th December, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) “the only US think-tank dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe” announced it was beefing up its membership with many formidable regime change figures including Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Anne Applebaum, Carl Bildt,Eliot A. Cohen,and Timothy Garton Ash.[vi] It is hard to see these old regime change advocates changing much without resources to put into play, but remember the successful application of their policies after 1989 resulted in socio-economic collapse and mass emigration from Poland and Baltic States where they were most influential. Does Central Europe want to repeat that implosion by following these horsemen of the apocalypse? It is unlikely that Central Europeans other than the sponsored demonstrators be asked.

Notes:
[i] The US embassy was listed at the top of the backers of the protest in a leaflet handed out  as the procession marched by. This so-called “Prague Maidan” was an obvious imitation of the protests in Kiev’s main square a year ago which toppled the Ukrainian president.

[ii] Ano is short for the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (Akce nespokojených občanů). “Ano” also  means “yes” in Czech. The party was founded in 2011.

[iii] Fidesz has also been accused of co-opting  Hungary’s former secret policemen

[iv] Nick Thorpe “Hungary’s Fidesz: Cracks emerge in ruling party” BBC 23rd October, 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29740030

[v] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-powers-buy-influence-at-think-tanks.html?_r=0

[vi] See, the CEPA press release:  http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1111079/ea59c56522/ARCHIVE

Christine Stone is co-author of Post-Communist Georgia: A Short History.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NATO troops and bases not welcome in Slovakia and Czech Republic

RT | June 5, 2014

Two Eastern European nations, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, have refused to host foreign troops and military bases. The prime ministers of both countries have consecutively spoken against the proposal voiced by US President Barack Obama.

Following the example of their neighbor the Czech Republic, the prime minister of Slovakia stated that his country is ready to meet its obligations as a NATO member state, but stationing foreign troops on its territory is out of the question.

Slovak PM Robert Fico said he “can’t imagine foreign troops being deployed on our territory in the form of some bases.”

The proposal to host more NATO troops in Eastern Europe was voiced by Obama on his current tour of Europe.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Obama said America is stepping up its partnership with countries in Eastern Europe with a view to bolstering security.

Initially, it was Poland that asked for a greater US military presence in Eastern Europe.

In April, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak called on the Pentagon to deploy as many as 10,000 American troops in his country.

Three Baltic States welcomed the idea back in April. To begin with, a small contingent of American troops began to arrive in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to take part in military training.

Two countries opposed deployment of any foreign soldiers on their territory.

On Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said his country sees no need to allow foreign military presence on its territory.

Last month, Defense Minister Martin Stropinsky sparked a political storm in the Czech Republic by recalling the 1968 invasion as the biggest reason not to host NATO troops in the country in a Reuters interview.

Slovakia’s Fico joined in the debate Wednesday, saying that for his country such a military presence is a sensitive issue because of the Warsaw Pact troops’ invasion into Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“Slovakia has its historical experience with participation of foreign troops. Let us remember the 1968 invasion. Therefore this topic is extraordinarily sensitive to us,” he said.

Fico said that Slovakia is committed to fulfill its obligations towards NATO despite military budget cuts and that allies would be allowed to train on Slovak territory anyway.

Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

The Czech Republic entered NATO in 1999, whereas Slovakia joined the alliance later, in 2004.

Fico’s Smer party, which has an absolute majority in Slovakia’s parliament, has been advocating warmer relations with Russia.

See also:

‘Peed in public, behave like occupiers’: Latvian mayor complains about NATO sailors

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment